Vanessa, MBTIonline Contributing Writer
The other day, I watched for a few minutes as my 7-year-old put together a Lego® set that looked painfully complex to me. I stood there amazed at how focused and organized he was.
“Buddy, you don’t have to finish that today if you don’t want to,” I said, in case he was tired of it.
“I said I was gonna build it, so that’s what I’m gonna do,” he replied, as he shrugged his shoulders. For a kid, he’s so matter-of-fact.
My son’s rational reply was a good reminder for me that we all have different learning styles and motivations. He seems to learn best when instructions are laid out clearly and logically – hence his ability to understand those complicated Lego instructions. As for me, I look at IKEA® instructions once and my eyes glaze over.
In the last post about learning styles, we offered helpful learning strategies for Sensing and Intuitive personality types. This time, we’ll explore another Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) preference pair: Thinking and Feeling (the “T” or “F” in your four-letter MBTI type). Let’s start with the Thinking types.
Things Thinking Types Say: “Let’s look at this rationally”
People who have a preference for Thinking (T) use logic to analyze information and make decisions. When they learn new things, their first instinct is to ask questions about the accuracy of the learning material, the credibility of the instructor, and whether the information is being presented objectively. As they progress, Thinking learners are motivated when they receive clear and corrective feedback about how to improve.
If you’re a Thinking type, competence is really important to you. But sometimes that holds you back from learning a new skill because you’d rather just skip to the part where you’re an expert. One of the most rational things you can do in those initial learning stages is to develop strategies that expand your capacity and confidence. Here are six ways to become a more strategic learner:
Six Learning Strategies for Thinking Types
- Lead with logic. Some topics will be more challenging because they’re theoretical or abstract. When that happens, try to pinpoint the most logical reasons for you to learn the material anyway. And when you have the freedom to choose, try to seek out subject matter and instructors that match your preferences for objectivity and credibility.
- Be diplomatic. Take the time to pose your questions or comments in a respectful way. This can keep group learning on track – especially among people who might misinterpret your candor as negative. One Thinking learner said, “In many situations, I’ve learned it’s better to not speak, debate, or challenge too directly.”
- Get to know your fellow learners. When you’re in a group learning environment, try to offer other members positive feedback and some help when needed. When you understand who you’re working with, conflicts and misunderstandings are less likely to happen.
- Remember that you don’t have to challenge everything. Your logical mind is your strength, but it can also be your downfall. Shift your focus from “how can I critique this idea?” to “what can I learn from this?”
- Communicate your need for direct feedback. Let instructors know you need clear, concise, corrective feedback. One Thinking learner said, “I rarely find someone who gives me really incisive, probing feedback. I feel like saying, ‘respect me and tell it to me straight."
- Research the topic and instructor beforehand. Whenever possible, only commit to the topics and modes of instruction that resonate with you. Research the credibility of materials, programs, teachers, etc. before you commit to something. That way, you’ll set yourself up for success from the start.
Tips for Leaders, managers and teachers preferring Thinking:
If you’re a teacher who prefers Thinking, you probably teach the same way you prefer to learn. But not all of your students will share the same preferences as you. Some will be Feeling types. While these learners do value logic, they’re more compelled by how to link the material to human needs and emotions. They also want their instructors to provide support, encouragement, and positive feedback. Consider your natural teaching style and how you can accommodate students who learn differently than you. Is there anything else you could do to help them?
Things Feeling Types Say: “Will anyone be hurt by this?”
People who have a preference for Feeling (F) use subjective values to evaluate information and make decisions. When they learn new things, they want to know personal applications, consequences, and overall implications of the information. As they evaluate information and make decisions, Feeling learners typically consider how those decisions will affect others. They’re most motivated to learn when they get to connect with people or help them in some way.
If you’re a Feeling type, you prefer to learn in a supportive, encouraging environment. But sometimes you’ll need to accept more direct, corrective feedback – and learn to give the same. After all, you never know what new connections you could make by expanding your learning skills . Here are six ways to do just that:
Six Learning Strategies for Feeling Types
- Make the material matter. Whatever the topic, learning will always matter more to you if you link it to something that’s personally important. One Feeling learner said, “I always ask myself how what I’m learning relates to me. It might seem somewhat self-absorbed, but unless I can relate what I’m learning to myself or others, it doesn’t make sense or seem important.”
- Recognize the value of corrective feedback. Constructive criticism might not feel supportive or encouraging in the moment, but that doesn’t mean it’s not helpful. Remember that objective analysis and corrective feedback are key components of a well-rounded learning environment.
- Learn to use logic. Think about the logical approach people must take when they create complex things like bridges, vehicles, medical devices, and more. Once you appreciate the value of logic and what it can do for the greater good, you can use it to evaluate information.
- Seek out supportive instructors when possible. It’s empowering when you find a teacher or mentor who supports and encourages you in ways that align with your preferences. One Feeling learner said, “My learning is enhanced by professors who display energy and passion for their work, who show genuine interest in their students, and display the desire to empower others.”
- Be your own biggest fan. You won’t always have the supportive instructor you want. When that’s the case, encourage yourself. When you are your own learning advocate, it might give you the confidence to adopt new skills.
- Don’t shut down when you feel discouraged. One Feeling learner said, “I recently participated in a group where I felt cut off and unacknowledged. I sat back, made little eye contact, and withdrew from interaction.” Learn from this person’s mistake and advocate for yourself in situations like that. This could also be a good opportunity for you to practice giving direct feedback.
Tips for leaders, managers and teachers preferring Feeling:
If you’re a leader, manager or teacher who prefers Feeling, you probably lead in a way that aligns with your natural learning style. To connect with the those who don’t share your preferences, try to be more direct. Those preferring Thinking want the learning material to be presented in a clear, logical way.
For even more learning strategies, read the other blogs in this series on self-improvement:
Kickstart your self-improvement by understanding your MBTI learning style
Become a more flexible learner with these tips for extraverted and introverted types
How people with MBTI Sensing and Intuitive preferences learn most effectively